Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week 2014

This week is Banned Books Week here in the USA, a week when the ALA, in conjunction with many other organizations, brings to light books that have been challenged and/or banned. Yes, despite our First Amendment rights, there are those who are still trying to dictate what people should or should not be allowed to read -- many times without having read a particular book themselves.

From the ALA's website:

The ALA promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.

Here is a list of the ten most frequently challenged books, according to the 2013 State of America's Library Report (I have read two on this list):

1.“Captain Underpants” (series), by Dav Pilkey. Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence

2.“The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

3.“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

4.“Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E. L. James. Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

5.“The Hunger Games,” (series) by Suzanne Collins. Reasons: Religious viewpoint, violence, unsuited to age group

6.“A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl,” by Tanya Lee Stone. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit

7.“Looking for Alaska,” by John Green.Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

8.“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

9.“Bless Me Ultima,” by Rudolfo Anaya. Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

10.“Bone” (series), by Jeff Smith. Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

Click here for a comprehensive list of Challenged Books in 2013-14, and here for a list of Banned & Challenged Classics.

I also found an interesting article from The Independent in the UK, BANNED: Books you could have been jailed for reading -- which includes the book I am reading this week, Lolita by Vladimir NabokovLolita was banned in many countries when it was initially published in 1955, though not in the USA. Now, of course, it frequently pops up on lists of challenged books for sexual content.

Celebrate the First Amendment and your right to read this week by picking up one of the many challenged or banned books on these lists!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Skywatch Friday 74

I was walking up through the restored prairie towards the neighborhood park Thursday evening when this turkey -- one of sixteen! -- sauntered across the summit of the hill. I couldn't resist capturing his silhouette against the evening sky. Some of the birds are looking a bit scruffy these days as they are molting, leaving feathers all over the place.

LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thursday Thirteen 351: Fun Fungi

It isn't unusual to find a wide variety of fungi in the nearby woods, but there's been so much rain this summer that patches of mushrooms have been sprouting everywhere, including well-kept lawns. As I was returning home from a Curtis Prairie walk two weeks ago, I noted the usual suspects along the wooded trails. What I didn't expect was an entire plantation of mushrooms, of all shapes and sizes, under the walnut trees at the nearby park. There are hundreds of them.

While I couldn't resist stopping to photograph them, I did not pick any. Never, ever pick any sort of mushroom unless you know what it is, and that it is not poisonous. The UW Arboretum occasionally features free guided walks on mushrooms, the most recent being this past Sunday and geared towards families/children. Their October 26 walk is about "Autumn Woodlands" and will talk specifically about fall leaves, mushrooms, "and other delights" (to use their words).

Here are some of the fungi I saw during the course of my walk two weeks ago. The first four photos were taken at Grady Tract/UW Arboretum, while the rest are from a local park. As always, click on any photo for a larger view.

Your classic mushroom shape.

Watch out for poison ivy, whether photographing or picking mushrooms in the woods!

Fungi and moss cover a rotting log.

Someone's been nibbling . . .

Mushrooms as far as the eye can see . . .

Doesn't this one look so elegant?

There were a lot of these huge "loaf" type mushrooms.

I don't think I want to know what that white gunk is.

This fluted bowl-shaped one was near the lone crabapple at the park.

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 149: Gentians

During Sunday's walk at Grady Tract/UW Arboretum, we found four of the five species of gentians that bloom on Arboretum prairies: Stiff, Bottle, Downy and Fringed. These beautiful fall flowers bloom late August into October, and range in color from lilac to a deep blue-purple.

Stiff Gentians bloom early September to late October.

Stiff Gentians grow in limestone regions, requiring calcareous soils,
and are found on dry, medium and wet prairies.

Bottle Gentians bloom August to mid-October, in wet-medium
prairies, in sun or partial shade.

Bottle Gentians are pollinated by larger bees and bumblebees -- they have to be
heavy enough to shoulder the front end of their bodies inside, as this gentian
does not open as most flowers do.

Downy Gentians typically flower early September to mid-October.

Downy Gentians remain closed on dark or cloudy days to protect
their nectar and delicate insides, only opening to the sun.

Fringed Gentians are my favorite,
and one of the rarer due to habitat loss.

Fringed Gentians bloom mid-August to October, in wet prairies,
marshes and sedge meadows. They may be abundant one year,
and non-existant the next.

Beautiful Fringed Gentian and two buds.


Wordless Wednesday

Teaser Tuesday 234: Books Can Be Deceiving

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

This week's teaser is from a cozy mystery, Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay, the first in her Library Lovers series.

He gave her a smarmy look that was obviously supposed to woo her. Beth let out a low growl that sounded as if it resonated from the back of her throat.

(Chapter 3)

Series: Library Lover's Mystery #1

Lindsey is getting into her groove as the director of the Briar Creek Public Library when a vacationing New York editor brings a little buzz to the small town. It's the perfect chance for her friend Beth to sell the children's book she's written. Unfortunately, Beth's boyfriend, Rick, a famous author and local celebrity, tries to stop her. When Lindsey and Beth meet the editor, they uncover the real reason for Rick's bad attitude.

When they go to confront Rick at his house on the storied and mysterious Thumb Islands, only to find him murdered. The local chief of police likes Beth for the murderer and isn't interested in looking elsewhere. Now Lindsey has to act fast before they throw the book at the wrong person.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Random Photo: Curtis Prairie

Curtis Prairie * UW Arboretum * Madison, WI * Aug 13, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thursday Thirteen 350: Late Bloomers

Here are a few late-blooming flowers, photographed over the past two weeks. Finding the first aster is always bittersweet. I love seeing them, and yet their presence means autumn is that much closer. Asters are one of several flowers that bloom late summer into fall. Many of these are making a late appearance this year, due to the cold, wet spring. As always, click on any photo for a larger view.

Goldenrod -- Depending on variety, these bloom late July to Oct.

Heath Asters -- blooms early Sept to Oct.

Bottle gentians -- blooms Aug to mid-Oct.

Frost aster -- blooms late Aug to Oct.

Lady's-tresses orchid -- blooms early Sept to early Oct. Look for
these near your ankles, as they are only 3 to 15 inches tall.

Sky-Blue Asters -- blooms mid-Aug to early Oct.

Showy Goldenrod and bee.

Field Milkwort -- blooms early July to early Oct.
Another one to look for near your feet, only 4 to 16 inches tall.

More asters

Cream Gentian -- so sad that these are already starting to fade.
Blooms early Aug to late Sept, and are a Wisconsin threatened species.

Turtleheads -- blooms early July to early Oct.

New England Asters -- blooms late Aug to early Oct.

Water Smartweed -- blooms late June to Sept, and is found near lakes,
ponds, bogs and marshes -- prettymuch wherever it is wet.

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 148: Can I Come In?

Poor little guy was trapped in the window-well during a storm.


Wordless Wednesday

Create With Joy

Monday, September 08, 2014

Teaser Tuesday 233: Emma

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

I have been reading Emma by Jane Austen for what seems like an eternity, but is in fact only a week. This is a revisit for a group read and, alas, I cannot say I am enjoying it any more this round than I did the first. Definitely not my favorite Austen, though I know many prefer it to her other works. Here's a snippet from where I've left off this Monday night:

It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively without being at any ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind; but when a beginning is made—when the felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt—it must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more.

(Vol. 2, Ch 11)


Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protégée Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen's most flawless work.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Friday, September 05, 2014

Skywatch Friday 73

From an evening walk, August 27, 2014 . . .

LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday